Pucker up! There’s a new cook book in the works from one of Cleveland’s most celebrated chefs, Jonathan Sawyer. And boy, does that man love vinegar. It’s the centerpiece of the his second cookbook that he is readying as we speak. The working title is “The Sixth Taste,” with publisher Ten Speed Press. I had the honor of recipe testing for the Greenhouse Tavern, Noodle Cat and Trentina founder.
His social media team gathered some fellow foodies and avid home cooks in the Chef’s circle to put his chef inspired recipes to the “real home cook test.” The Chef’s assistant says they shared a post on social media asking for the public’s help and the response was overwhelming. She tells me they got hundreds of responses within hours, a testiment to the excitement over this latest project. There were fans selected at random plus friends of the Chef’s that also pitched in.
“Being professional culinarians we, chef and I, can lose sight of what is easy to execute in a kitchen. Making a pan or emulsified sauce is second nature to us. We can execute it without much thought. We wanted to be sure that what is organic to us wouldn’t be beyond the ability of even the most novice home cook,” said Chef Jeremy Umansky, a pivotal member of Team Sawyer.
I joined my co worker, and partner in all things food, Amanda, for the adventure. We met up at Team Sawyer HQ on the near east side where the team turned the studio into a make shift commercial kitchen.
There was a pantry, produce, kitchen gadget and utensils station all laid out for us. It took a bit of time to get our bearings, but we’re excited and eager to get after out “assignment.” Amanda and I were tasked with working through the veggie burger and pickeled romaine recipes.
While we worked on that, the beans and rice were cooking for the veggie burger patties. That was a bit more of a challenge, given the cooking conditions and “first draft” form of the recipe. What’s really cool about the concept of this burger, is the color and texture. By incorporating roasted beets, the patties closely resemble ground beef.
It also had mushrooms and fennel, yum! As we progressed through the recipe we started to noticed there were things like the yield, and cook time for the rice, that were not accurate as written. But that is the reason why we we’re there! It was fun to talk through and work through the bugs with Chef Sawyer…who couldn’t resist popping in on the group to check on our progress.
The testing gave Team Sawyer a chance to taste the dishes as they would be prepared by a home cook. They could then see and taste what needed to be tweaked. Some recipes needed more vinegar. Some needed longer or shorter cook times. Some needed a dash more salt.
“The testing was a huge success and gave us invaluable data that we needed to fine tune the book,” Umansky said.
“All the recipes survived the testing, which was our goal. There’s always a reserved fear that something won’t be well received. We were fortunate that every one was a success,” Umansky said. On top of that, Umansky says the testers appeared just as excited about the recipes as Team Sawyer is.
The recipe testing was conducted over a two day period…three groups the first day and six groups the second day. And as a group, we cooked through 30 recipes!
Chef Sawyer’s book is due out late this year or early 2018. Can’t wait to see these recipes come to life on the page and know that I played a SMALL role in the development.